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July 30 MLB DFS: Pirates Living The High Life
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July 30 MLB DFS: Pirates Living The High Life

00:41 Starting Pitchers
07:31 Catchers
08:57 First Base
11:59 Second Base
14:18 Shortstops
16:33 Third Base
18:47 Outfield
24:20 Cash Game Roster Construction & Stacks




Starting Pitcher Rankings

Tier One

1) Scott Kazmir (LAD)

2) Julio Teheran (ATL)

3) Justin Verlander (DET)

Tier Two

4) Drew Pomeranz (BOS)

5) James Taillon (PIT)

Tier Three

6) Anthony DeSclafani (CIN)

7) Jaime Garcia (STL)

8) Jeremy Hellickson (PHI)

It was surprising at first to see our model spit out Scott Kazmir (LAD) as the top option given that the Diamondbacks set up fairly well against LHP (seventh in wRC+). However, they still swing and miss more than the average team in this split (22.2 percent), and Vegas has the Diamondbacks pegged with the lowest implied run total on the slate at 3.3. When you also consider Kazmir is the heaviest favorite -220, his number one spot is solidified. He hasn’t been consistent this season. In his last eight starts, he has three games with an xFIP of 4.50 or higher and three at 2.50 or lower. Given the affordable pricing, we don’t mind the volatility, especially given a high ceiling on a night without much opportunity cost at the position.

Following Kazmir in tier one are Julio Teheran (ATL) and Justin Verlander (DET). Teheran is the better cash game option due to a combination of price and safety (second lowest implied run total against. The Phillies lineup is 29th in wRC+ against RHP. Verlander is great for tournaments as his ability to pitch deep into games and strong K rates give him a high ceiling. However, the Astros are a good offense, and their home park is favorable to hitters, making Verlander and his 4.01 xFIP unnecessary in cash games at a high price.

Secondary cash game option on DraftKings include Jameson Taillon (PIT) (Brewers strike out so much against RHP) and Jaime Garcia (STL) (no Vegas line yet but a sub-7k price tag seems viable for where we expect the implied run total against to land). In general, though we like sticking in tier one in cash games since it’s not difficult to afford it. Tournaments are another story. It’s always good to try and be a bit more contrarian than usual at the position in GPPs when the tier one starters are shakier. That’s especially the case tonight with some matchups that five the secondary tiered starters some upside. Aside from Taillon, Anthony DeSclafani (CIN) gets a giant park shift and faces a Padres offense that’s great to pick on in DFS. Jeremy Hellickson (PHI), who has held a solid K rate this season (21 percent), faces an Atlanta team dead last in wRC+ against RHP. A final option to consider on DraftKings is Bartolo Colon (NYM). While he’s not a high upside pitcher, he’s very cheap considering the Rockies have one of the lower implied run totals on the slate.

Catcher Rankings

1) Victor Martinez (DET)

2) Jonathan Lucroy (MIL) (trade risk)

3) Francisco Cervelli (PIT) (health risk)

4) Salvador Perez (KC)

5) Yasmani Grandal (LAD)

Francisco Cervelli (PIT) is the best mid-tier value at the position as we’re really high on the Pirates offense given the massive park shift in their favor and Chase Anderson‘s lack of skills (5.31 FIP, 19.3 hard minus soft hit rate). Another option who could vault into our top five rankings is Travis d’Arnaud (NYM), who hit second yesterday and now will have the platoon edge against Jorge de la Rosa (.342 wOBA, .181 ISO allowed to RHBs since 2014). d’Arnaud would be especially valuable on FanDuel.

First Base Rankings

1) Paul Goldschmidt (ARI)

2) Freddie Freeman (ATL)

3) Miguel Cabrera (DET)

4) Jose Abreu (CHW)

5) John Jaso (PIT)

At the right price, we don’t mind using Paul Goldschmidt (ARI) in the same cash game lineup as the opposing pitcher, Scott Kazmir. Goldschmidt’s ridiculous splits (.453 wOBA, .234 ISO against LHP since 2014) and Kazmir’s fly ball tendencies create a situation where both players could have productive DFS outings. If you don’t pay up, the options rounding out our top five both make for good value plays. Jose Abreu (CHW) is having a disappointing season, but we’ll still take our shots on him at an incredibly low price tag given the matchup against Tommy Milone (career 1.26 HR/9 despite always having a large home park). John Jaso (PIT) has been red hot (positive 1.0 delta in our well-hit tool), which is perfect timing as the Pirates have the third highest implied run total on the slate at 4.8.

Second Base Rankings

1) Jose Altuve (HOU)

2) Jurickson Profar (TEX)

3) Brian Dozier (MIN)

4) Rougned Odor (TEX)

5) Jason Kipnis (CLE)

Jose Altuve (HOU) is our top play at the position and best rated value. He’s cash viable as a result (Justin Verlander‘s reverse splits help drive the rating despite the matchup looking poor at first glance). Still, it’s a more logical option in tournaments. It’s easy to save some money here as our go to option all week, Jurickson Profar (TEX), once again is in a great spot. At 5.4, the Rangers have clearly the highest team total on the slate, and we should expect to see Profar hitting first or second against Ian Kennedy, who is yielding tons of power thanks to a small 33.2 GB rate and astronomic 21.4 hard minus soft hit rate. Pitching in Texas in 90-plus degree weather won’t help that. The best alternatives are Chase Utley (LAD) on FanDuel (Braden Shipley was rocked in his MLB debut), and Brian Dozier (MIN) on DraftKings (Miguel Gonzalez has historically allowed same handed HRs at a high rate).

Shortstop Rankings

1) Carlos Correa (HOU)

2) Corey Seager (LAD)

3) Francisco Lindor (CLE)

4) Tim Anderson (CHW)

5) Jonathan Villar (MIL)

Our top three shortstop options all rank very closely in our model. Carlos Correa (HOU) emerges as the top option as he’s the only one of the three that doesn’t have a very poor well-hit rating over the last two weeks. The price on him, particularly on DraftKings, also works in his favor. We could still see dropping down to Corey Seager (LAD) (.415 wOBA, .240 ISO against RHP for his career) in FanDuel cash games and tournaments everywhere. Alcides Escobar (KC) is a fine punt on DraftKings given the combination of platoon edge, park, and lineup spot.

Third Base Rankings

1) Miguel Sano (MIN) (where eligible)

2) Jung Ho Kang (PIT)

3) Justin Turner (LAD)

4) Todd Frazier (CHW)

5) Adrian Beltre (TEX)

Miguel Sano (MIN) has a good matchup for his power (career .237 ISO) against Miguel Gonzalez (career 1.42 HR/9 allowed to RHBs). The price on DraftKings makes him a phenomenal value play over there. If you decide to play him in the outfield, there are several viable alternatives around his salary. On FanDuel, Sano is not third base eligible. There we really like saving some money on Jung Ho Kang (PIT) (.236 ISO on the season being driven by increased loft and a higher hard hit rate) against Chase Anderson (.371 wOBA and .205 ISO allowed to RHBs since 2014). It’s fine though to also pay up for Justin Turner (LAD) given a positive delta in our well-hit tool and a solid 4.7 implied run total for his Dodgers.

Outfield Rankings

1) Starling Marte (PHI)

2) Andrew McCutchen (PIT)

3) Rajai Davis (CLE)

4) Mike Trout (LAA)

5) Gregory Polanco (PIT)

6) Mookie Betts (BOS)

7) Lorenzo Cain (KC)

8) Billy Hamilton (CIN)

9) Giancarlo Stanton (MIA)

10) Miguel Sano (MIN)

11) Yoenis Cespedes (NYM)

12) Nomar Mazara (TEX)

13) Ian Desmond (TEX)

14) Carlos Gonzalez (COL)

15) Josh Reddick (OAK)

It’s not too difficult to pay up for Starling Marte (PIT) and Andrew McCutchen (PIT) in cash games. We’ve covered this matchup pretty in depth already, but Marte (high event player who is running a ton this season) and McCutchen (very disappointing season but we’re not writing him off at 29 YO) are two high upside options. A pivot off the Pirates guys up top is Rajai Davis (CLE), especially if you want to diversify. We haven’t hit on Cleveland much, but they are one of two teams with a higher implied run total than the Pirates. Davis is always one of our favorite options when facing LHP (great splits, will lead off, runs recklessly), and Dillon Overton is pretty bad (allowed 14 runs in 15 innings over three career starts, all made this season). In the mid to mid-low tier, second and third outfield options include Billy Hamilton (CIN) (great speed upside out of the leadoff spot and will face a wild SP in Christian Friedrich) and most notable Nomar Mazara (TEX) (well underpriced for his skill set in a plus matchup at home, especially given an increase in well-hit rating recently). Some cheaper options on each site are Josh Reddick (OAK) on FanDuel (buy low opportunity may be running out and Josh Tomlin allows power) and Travis Jankowski (SD) on DraftKings (we’d like to stick to higher upside options but gets the horrific Reds pitching staff out of the leadoff spot). Some of our favorite tournament options are Mookie Betts (BOS) (always like him when his ownership will get lost in the shuffle a bit due to opportunity cost), Khris Davis (OAK) (always a double dong threat, and Josh Tomlin is allows hard hit, aerial contact), and Joey Gallo (TEX) (lineup spot should keep ownership down but the per plate appearance upside is massive).

Stack Rankings

Tier One

1) Pittsburgh Pirates

2) Cleveland Indians

3) Texas Rangers

Tier Two

4) Kansas City Royals

5) Chicago White Sox

6) Los Angeles Dodgers

7) Minnesota Twins

When taking into consideration value, the Pirates and Rangers are logical cash game mini-stacks, while covering yourself with Cleveland in tournaments makes a ton of sense (the individual values didn’t pop enough to get much exposure in cash games).

Really any of our tier two stacks can be used in tournaments – ownership should be spread out enough that you don’t have to go overly contrarian. One not ranked option that is intriguing are the Red Sox. On one hand they are really overpriced given the negative park shift and a 4.5 team total (which is low for them). On the other hand, Hector Santiago has blow up potential given his high BB and FB rates, so it’s weird to get them versus a subpar pitcher with almost no hype. It’s an interesting game theory question as to whether or not that stack is plus-EV.